Proverbs 21:13 NRSV
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor,
you will cry out and not be heard.
There is one thread common to the human spirit and that is poverty. Oh, one may not be poor in money or possessions or even in self-worth, but we are all poor in something.
In Matthew 5:3, the Lord Jesus spoke about the poor in spirit. Matthew Henry states that “this poverty of spirit is a gracious disposition of soul, by which we are emptied of self, in order to our being filled with Jesus Christ.” There is a sense, in scripture, that tells us to lay down everything that we are to become only more and more of Him. It is an odd thing for our hearts want us to cling to what we believe is life: our personalities, our desires, our lusts, even our memories. And yet, without Him, we have—and are—nothing. Praise God that we are cherished by the Father for it is His love that gives us value. “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NRSV). The fact is that we don’t need to become anything because we already are something . . . that which God loves. And that love doesn’t come because anything within us, but because of what is inside God: His holy character.
When we reach out to those around us—particularly when we reach out with mercy and forgiveness—we are simply extending the hand of love that has already been extended to us. When we are angry or unmerciful or angry, we need to look in the mirror. When we are angry because of someone else’s lack, we need to remember that we are as poor as they are. When we get angry because that person offended us, we need to remember the times we have offended others. When we get angry because that person intruded on our rights, we need to remember the times we intruded on the rights of others.
Matthew 18 speaks of the parable of the unforgiving servant. This servant was forgiven by the master for a great debt, but refused to forgive the small debt of another servant. The Lord Jesus ends the parable with this:
“And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart” Matthew 18:34-35 NRSV
We are all poor. If not in wealth or fame or power, we are all poor in spirit. As God has been merciful to us, let us be merciful to those around us.